Understanding the Risks of DIY Estate Planning

Illinois estate planning lawyerIn a world where people are increasingly reliant upon the internet for their personal, financial, and business needs, do-it-yourself estate planning may seem like the fastest, easiest, and least expensive option for drafting a will or trust. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Do-it-yourself estate planning options can rarely accommodate the unique needs of individuals, and they can leave the surviving family susceptible to all sorts of complications. Learn more about the risks that one may assume under a DIY estate plan, and discover how the assistance of a seasoned estate planning lawyer can reduce the risk of probate issues for your loved ones.

Overlooking Potential Issues

In a DIY estate plan, individuals usually rely on the prompts of a computer. If they respond incorrectly, do not understand the verbiage of a specific question, or if the computer fails to ask the appropriate questions, there could be potential issues in the future. As an example, consider the estate plan in which one names only primary beneficiaries. If something happens to the named parties and a successor or contingent was not named, the estate could go to probate.

Complex Estate Planning Issues 

Families are far more diverse these days. In fact, many individuals are on their second or third marriages, and there are often children involved. How does one ensure that everyone receives their "fair share," or how can you prevent a spouse from taking assets that are intended to go to children? To answer this question simply: such issues are best discussed with a lawyer, rather than a computer, especially if there is a substantial amount of money at stake.

Guardianship Naming is a Complex Issue

Parents often assume that a DIY will is sufficient for naming a guardian. Sadly, this is not always  the case. There are scenarios in which parents may need a more complex document to ensure the safety and well-being of their child. For example, consider a scenario in which the primary guardian dies shortly after the child's natural parents. If a successive guardian has not been named, the child could experience the very same fate that his or her parents were trying to avoid.

Probate is More Common with DIY Estate Plans

Estate plans that are drafted with the assistance of an attorney are far from iron-clad, but they are still far less susceptible to probate than a DIY estate plan. Part of this can be attributed to the more comprehensive nature of lawyer-assisted estate plans, but another reason that such estate plans are more effective at preventing probate is that people are also less likely to challenge an estate that was drafted in the presence of an attorney.

Contact Our DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers

If you need assistance with an estate plan, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC for assistance. Dedicated and experienced, our DuPage County estate planning lawyers can help you create a personalized legal document that reduces the risk of probate for your heirs. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation today.



Do-it-Yourself Estate Planning Can be an Expensive Mistake

do-it-yourself-estate planning, Wheaton estate planning lawyerIllinois residents work hard so they can enjoy the fruits of their labor once they retire and so they are able to provide for their families after they have passed. They want to ensure that even when they are no longer here, their loved ones have the financial assets to improve their quality of life. However, several costly estate planning mistakes can be made, and they can seriously impact an estate plan.

One of the most common estate planning errors is the belief that it can be done without the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. There are a multitude of online companies that offer estate planning forms for people to download and prepare themselves. However, the problem with these "do-it-yourself" documents is that there are specific laws, in each state, that govern estate planning. Therefore, if a person is not cognizant of the details of these laws, the simple "do-it-yourself" will or trust can end up being very costly—more costly than what an attorney would have charged to do it correctly to begin with. This is especially true when drawing up trusts, which many people utilize in order to help alleviate the tax implications that can sometimes come along with inheriting money.

Trusts do play an important role in estate planning and various financial planners advise people to not leave a large sum of money to heirs. Instead, set up trusts for them. This can be especially helpful to those who have an adult child with serious emotional or substance abuse issues. Additionally, setting up a trust which includes provisions, and appointing someone as a trustee, will prevent the funds from being spent quickly and inappropriately.

People who own their own businesses often forget to include the businesses in their estate plans. However, there are important plans that a business owner should have in place in the event of his or her death. For example, will the owner's life insurance cover the estate taxes when he or she dies?

Another issue that may need to be addressed is how a business will be divided among an owner's children. What happens when one child works at the business and the others do not? Not having a firm plan in place can end up causing your children to take a hard financial hit, and may additionally cause a family feud if all of the siblings do not agree how the business should move forward.

Finally many people do not update their estate plans when major life events happen, such as marriage, divorce or death. This is especially true when there should be a change of beneficiaries to go along with these events.

If you need to draw up new estate plan documents, or update the ones you currently have in place, please contact an experienced Wheaton estate planning attorney today to discuss what options will work best for you and your family.